altered vision

At any moment, what we see is most influenced by who we decided to be.
–      Margaret Wheatley

Human eye

Photo credit: dullhunk

As the latest unwanted marketing flyer left my hand and arced into the recycle bin during an early-morning cleaning surge, I caught the tagline:

Suffer from eyestrain?

This stopped me cold. Not because the question seemed unusual. Not because I don’t, from time to time. But because the very next line was:

Get relief with [brand deleted]”

My reflex response: for heavens’ sake, if you experience eyestrain, take a break! This remedy even has a name you can pronounce: common sense; or perhaps self-care. Reaching for the pamphlet so I could be sure to get the name correct, I chanced to open to the second panel:

of Computer Vision Syndrome.

Followed by this helpful explanation: “The human eye is not suited for viewing a computer screen for long hours.” How much time, money and human brainpower did it take to create a ‘remedy’ for such a common problem – for which the basic solution is free, available to all, and a matter of awareness, of simple listening to the body???

It came to me that this is but one example of a prevailing view – that the human body  needs to be ‘fixed’ when something we do to it causes pain or damage. What ever happened to taking responsibility for how we treat ourselves? I started to ponder the many ways in which we have abdicated our personal responsibility to our bodies. . .  But I neither need nor want some mega-industry capitalizing on my loss of touch with reality. Nor creating my loss of reality by trying to convince me that I’m broken when in fact, I just need to readjust my personal lens.

Of course, we  all have times when we feel out of sorts or logey and want to feel better. No one can feel ‘up’ and energetic endlessly; all bodies have their cycles. It’s more than OK to pay attention, get to know your own body, learn how to care for it when it speaks of its needs.

Ignoring – or at least distancing ourselves from – our bodies seems part of how we in Western society are socialized. As a young professional, I went into health education believing that preventive maintenance was a far more effective path to health than trying to repair what a life of bad habits might create. The notion of the complete person was part and parcel of this training.

So when I read an article about someone dedicated to bringing Eastern practices into Western medicine, I feel as if finally the tide might be turning. [That, after shaking my head: all these centuries to reinvent what ancient cultures have known all along!!!] We might be able, after all, to begin to see with new eyes; to decide to be more conscious, starting with our own bodies and how we listen to and treat them. We don’t need high-tech solutions for that. We don’t even need high-tech solutions for world peace. We just need to slow down and truly listen for our commonalities as humans in a shrinking world. We all have the same basic needs; we all face shrinking resources.  Isn’t there a way to get corporate and political clout on the side of this type of careful conscious change? I hope so. My belief in people’s ability to learn from their lives and to adjust their vision is what sustains and nurtures me. May it sustain and nurture us all into a more balanced tomorrow.

i love this world, but not for its answers*

I love this world but not
for its answers. I love it
for its unbounded possibility, its
open-hearted vistas and ocean expanse, its bordered meetings
of rock and plant, the unexpected ways a sunset can dip and grace
an otherwise dull day; for
the surprise of sweet narcissus
emerging from late snow; hope
and optimism of cycles, turning,
predictability and surprise
of trust, not knowing
and faith.

I love this world, not for its answers
but questions that lead us forward
and in, that lead us to learn from
earth and star, the unique and cosmic;
to practice seeing gratitude grow into truth –
right relationship with all life.

I love this world for being alive.
For its challenge, comfort,
its steadfast presence.
Though it holds horrors
that never should have been borne,
that can drag us down, distort
and destroy; though it does
not always answer – yet
its inherent good lives.
And for this, fI love this world.

*with thanks to Mary Oliver, ‘Snowy Night’; an in-class fast-write from a girls’ circle that feels like a natural follow-on to Friday’s post.

not political . . . really?!

I am not a politically active creature. Ever since ‘feminism’ first marbled across my lips, even sank into my taste buds, I have heard ‘the personal is political.’ The fundamental impact of those words, however, eluded me. For a time.

Fast forward to the coursing of ‘conscious feminine’ through my whole being – about concurrent with the National Declaration of Either/Or; add in my calling to write with incarcerated women; and I now find myself awake in a cold sweat, day and night, feverish to address everything at once.

And yet – I keep missing my self-appointed Friday blog date with the conscious feminine. Last night I learned why: I am outraged. Sputtering. Speechless, almost. At the Great National Divide between Those Who Think and, well, everyone else. It seems the latest national past time (and it’s WAY passed time for this to end) has become to elevate the lowest common denominator to the highest law of the land. Through repetition of the patently absurd (think ‘you can’t get pregnant from rape’). Where I come from, repeated wishful thinking never did make it so. A variant on Albert Einstein’s famed definition of ‘insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

You can see how distant I keep myself from today’s political tactics.

What on earth is going on here? Well, dear Reader, it turns out we all – yes, women AND men – have urges. For sex, power, violence; as well as genuine desire for opportunity and the well-being of our citizens. AND we live, for better and worse, in a society. Which means we are in it together. What we say matters. How we act matters. Yet, along with reality and civil discourse, we seem to have lost sight of our basic God-given abilities to think, to reason. To listen. To reflect. With respect for difference; not the all-too-common derision or defiance, the coarsest acts of deception which have become the de rigeur standard of discourse by our would-be leaders.

Let’s focus on other d-words, like decency and decorum. I’ll even settle for democracy: that’s at least about the people, not a handful of very rich men asserting their unthinking opinions over and over again, hoping to move us toward change. The thinking man Einstein had it right: that’s just insanity.

English: Albert Einstein's signature Hrvatski:...

English: Albert Einstein’s signature  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The word inevitably arises within the first month of each new writing season. Despite her sometimes desperate desire to be writing, here and now, a woman’s resistance to writing looms huge and seemingly insurmountable.

This resistance is insidious. It’s downright evil. NOW is the time I have set aside. To write. Regularly. And to share what I write in order to get constructive feedback.

Silence. Blank paper. Nada.

This resistance wears many disguises, excuses primary among them. Didn’t get enough sleep; not comfortable in my writing place; need coffee, light, a walk . . . Too many phone calls ahead or bills to pay . . .

Over the years I’ve shared, many times, the wonderful demonstration described by Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When asked to fill a bowl with large and small stones, most folks start with the small, only to find there is no room for the large. Yet, if you put the large ones in first, the small ones settle in and find their niche.

I remind my writers that WRITING IS THE LARGE STONE. This is what we want to do; so let’s do it! Not worry about it; not put it aside for the myriad minutiae that can immediately scream for attention the minute we strive to focus on something for ourselves. Those things will get done. After the writing.

What it really comes down to, of course, is that women constantly need to be reassured that it’s OK to take time for ourselves. We are programmed to be on call 24/7 to others’ needs and demands. Programmed to feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. Programmed to feel not worthy of all this attention to self. It is time we put ourselves atop our to-do list. Amazingly, not only will the small stuff get done; it generally will take less time and seem less onerous having attended to our own needs first. And yes – writing is for many of us a Need. So put it in first place as self-care. And enjoy it! We deserve every minute.

guardian of field and pond

Another summer month by the sea – the time I look forward to all year – comes to a close.  It has become the time when poems flow from land, ocean, river and breeze; from bird, flower, field and trees. And so I close my time here with yet another great blue heron sketch – not only has this majestic bird captured my imagination and my time; this summer, he also got captured by camera, mine.

Regal, he perches some forty feet up
steely blue outline sharp as a gargoyle

atop the lush green lollipop of tree
his vantage point of field and pond
territory watched with guarded eye;

he turns now this way, then that, scans
for intruders to his singular séance
with spirits. Surely

he listens to what they say
as still and profiled beak to tail
his body speaks vigilant care

to his task; alert and aware,
he takes his silent leave
from leafy post as we move in

our hundred feet too close for him
though still too distant for me!